Dayton, the sixth-largest city in Ohio and the county seat of Montgomery County is also the fourth-largest metropolitan area after Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus. The city has a population of 141,003 and is well known for its innovation and aviation milestones. If fact, Dayton is famously known as the city of the Wright Brothers, the impressive duo who invented, built and flew the first successful airplane. American poet, novelist and playwright of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Paul Laurence Dunbar was born and raised in Dayton. His home has been preserved as a state historical site there. James Henry Patterson, an industrialist who found the National Cash Register Company was also born in Dayton.
Dayton is full of historical hotspots like The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, the official museum of the United States Air Force which is located at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Carillon Historical Park is a great place to explore pioneer history along with a tour of the Patterson Homestead while drinking fresh-brewed craft beer. Dayton is full of nature spots like the Clifton Gorge, a 2-mile long National Natural Landmark.
Dayton is full of history and nature but is also considered one of the highest rated cities when it comes to crime. Scoring a 3 out of 100, 100 being the safest. The city is full of murder, robbery, violence and rape. One of the major causes of the city’s crime stems from drug use. Drug use seems to stem from unemployment in Ohio as a whole. Unemployment is a problem that many cities in America face. For many people, work gives their life purpose so they need to be able to satisfy their desire to work. Often without a purpose, people turn toward drugs and alcohol as a replacement.
In Ohio, over 800 overdose opioid deaths were reported in 2017.Between 2015 and 2016, overdose deaths rose by 33 percent in the state. Due to the large amount of overdoses deaths, there has been strain on morgues, emergency services and foster care systems. Dayton had the highest rate of overdoses deaths in the country. Montgomery County is known as the overdose capital of the United States.
While opioids are the drug of choice for most of America’s population, fentanyl is a familiar drug that keeps appearing in headlines all across the nation. A big reason why fentanyl is so popular is because it is a widespread drug that can be ordered online. Cryptomarkets on the dark web allow a seller and buyer to remain anonymous making the transactions private and easy due to cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
What is Fentanyl and Why Is It So Dangerous?
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid similar to morphine but it is 50 to 100 times more potent. Recorded as a schedule II prescription drug, it’s generally prescribed to patients to manage pain after surgery. It can also be used to treat patients who have a chronic pain condition.
In prescription form, fentanyl is seen as Duragesic, Actiq and Sublimaze but its street name looks wildly different: Murder 8, Jackpot, Dance Fever, China Girl, TNT, Tango and Cash, etc. In prescription form, fentanyl is administered by injection, lozenges or a transdermal patch. Non-pharmaceutical fentanyl is sold as a powder, tablet form, spiked on blotter paper, etc., it can be swallowed, injected or snorted. Most often fentanyl is mixed with heroin when sold on the streets.
Fentanyl works by binding to the body’s receptors within the brain that control emotions and pain. All opioids work this way. As these receptors are bound, dopamine levels in the brain become relaxed which introduces a euphoric state. People feel some of the falling effects:
- Respiratory Depression
- Respiratory Depression/arrest
Fentanyl is so dangerous because the opioid receptors are also found within the brain that are in control of a person’s breathing rate. When fentanyl is bought on the street or even online, there is no way of knowing how much a person is getting per dose. Because fentanyl is a high potency drug, people are swallowing, snorting or injecting way too much at one time which can lead to breathing problems and even death. Fentanyl that is sold on the street or online can also be spiked with heroin or cocaine, which only increases the chance for someone to overdose on it.
Medications like naloxone, an opioid receptor antagonist that reverses the effects of an opioid overdoses and restores normal respiration are available. People who are overdosing on fentanyl should take naloxone immediately.
Education and Awareness
Two successful ways to win the war on drugs is through education and awareness. By educating people about drugs like fentanyl and how dangerous they are, it can help save more lives. By raising more awareness about the harsh reality of the death rate across America due to drugs, it can also help to save more lives. Avoidance is not acceptable and neither is turning ones back on the problem. People are facing addiction and many times, they are facing it alone. A lot of people in society do not buy into addiction being a disease or disorder. Does one have to buy into it before they can help someone else out? Many times, people just need a helping hand, they just need to hear some words of comfort. Education and awareness is all about teaching people because some people really do believe there is no other alternative and others fear what might happen if their lives change from what they know to what they don’t know. It’s important to start educating and spreading awareness to children as well as adults because children are learning negativity through social media, which increases the risk of drug use all on its own.
Causes of Drug Use
As mentioned earlier, drug use can be caused by unemployment. People need purpose in their lives and a lot of people find that through work. With unemployment being an issue in many cities, people are finding it harder and harder to get a job. Joblessness can lead to drug use.
Changes in one’s life can also lead to drug use. Those who have lost a loved one, gotten a divorce, had their car repossessed, lost their job, lost custody of their kids or even have high stress jobs turn to drugs as well.
Peer pressure as a teen is a huge reason that people use drugs. A friend is doing drugs and teens do not want to seem “uncool” so they do drugs too.
Social media is another reason more teens turn toward drugs. Social media is very negative because people are judging other people all the time. There are dozens of apps under the social media category of the google store or play store for smart phones that allow other people to anonymously tell others how they feel about them. That is full of negativity. Not too mention how much time people in general, stay on social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc., are all social media websites that many people spend a large amount of their day on. Children and teens are glued to their phones, watching negative video after negative video. Girls and boys are being judged for how they look or what they post. Most teens desire to have hundreds, if not thousands of followers. Sounds like a lot of pressure to not only fit in but to also be “trending” online. It’s no wonder why some teens begin using drugs at such an early age. Instead, social media should be used as a platform to raise awareness and educate children and teens about harmful drug use. Children and teens follow their favorite celebrities online who could spread awareness about harmful drug use.
Drug addiction can be passed down genetically. So, no matter what a person does to stay away from drugs, it’s possible to become addicted to them at some point in life.
Signs of Drug Abuse and Addiction
- Sleeping problems
- Insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, being awake at odd hours of the night, falling asleep in strange places, sleeping all the time
- Feeling lethargic or having tons of energy
- Eating habits change
- Eating more than usual, eating less than usual, weight gain, weight loss, vomiting after eating
- Watery or bloodshot eyes
- Strange smells
- Slurred speech
- Overly talkative or hyperactive
- A decline in personal hygiene or appearance (lack of grooming)
- Clenching of the jaw
- Impaired coordination
- Pale in the face or looking flush
- Lack of interest for socializing or going out
- Not motivation
- Mental issues
- Paranoia, anxiety, nervousness or violent outbursts
- Being secretive
- Personality shifts
- Being dishonest
- Wearing dirty clothes regularly
- Uninterested in work duties or receiving poor performance reviews
- Issues with finances
- Not interested in school (for children and teens)
Cycle of Addiction
Initial Use- First time prescription drug use or a first experience with drug use is what initial use is. There hasn’t been a prior use and therefore, there is no real way of knowing at this point that one may become addicted.
Abuse- When a person has refilled a prescription that they do not really need because their pain has disappeared or a person is now using drugs regularly (outside their initial use period) abuse happens.
Tolerance- A person has tried a drug, has discovered that they really like it and is now taking even more to get the same high as when they first started using a drug. The body and mind has grown tolerant of the drug.
Dependence- From tolerance to dependence is when a person cannot function in their daily life without having the drug.
Addiction- This happens when a person starts to have withdrawals from the drug after they have stopped taking it. Addiction is a chronic brain disease that effects the brain’s receptors of motivation, memory, pleasure and reward.
Relapse- Relapse comes after addiction. Generally, people with an alcohol or drug addiction go to a rehabilitation center that allows them to become sober. Relapse happens when person chooses to drink or do drugs after becoming sober.
Not everyone becomes addicted to drugs and endures a relapse. Some people are not prone to addiction at all, their brains are hardwired differently. However, there appears to be many more people who are genetically predisposed to addiction than those who are not.
The Drug Rehabilitation Process
Educating oneself about drugs also means learning about the drug rehabilitation process. Many people choose not to get help with their addiction because they fear what drug rehab is. Mostly, because of things heard on the streets about how bad withdrawal can be. Learning about the process as a whole may help to alleviate some of those fears.
Drug rehab always starts with an assessment or what some facilities refer to as a pre-intake. An assessment is a short questionnaire that helps the staff to know that 1. A person has a drug addiction and 2. If the facility is the right one to provide treatment. An assessment is standard procedure and asks questions like these:
- What type of drug(s) is/were being used?
- How long ago were drugs taken?
- How were they taken? Snorted, swallowed or injected?
- Is there a history of drug use?
- Is there a history of drug rehabilitation?
- Is alcohol involved?
- What does the social environment look like? Married? Single? Kids? Living with parents?
- Are there any mental disorders to consider?
An assessment will be taken by a doctor, nurse, counselor or therapist to find out what sort of treatment is needed.
An intake is very similar to an assessment and often times, its wrapped up with an assessment in one neat package that seems more like an interview than anything else. An intake will ask about family medical, mental and drug history while also asking about more information on personal drug use. During an intake a physical examination will be completed by a doctor to make sure the body is strong enough to endure any withdrawal symptoms. Lab tests, specifically a urine test will be administered to check for drugs. After which, a patient will finish up with their admittance to the facility by making payment arrangements and receive a check on personal items. Some items are not allowed in the facility and can either be taken home with family members or friends or can be held at the front desk until check out.
Non-permitted items are pretty standard across all drug rehab facilities:
- Large amounts of cash
- Over-the-counter medication
- Revealing clothing
- Musical Instruments
- Bed linens or pillows
If there are drugs found in the system, a patient will go to detox. This allows the body to be cleansed of drugs before a patient is recommended for inpatient or outpatient treatment. The detox step of the rehabilitation process is what people tend to have the most anxiety over, due to the withdrawal symptoms.
Typically, person who is withdrawing from opioids will start to have symptoms anywhere from 12 to 30 hours after their last dose. Typically, these symptoms tend to leave off within a week or so.
Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms:
- Becoming emotional
- Runny nose
- Stomach cramps
- Body hair standing on its end
- Stomach cramps
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle pain/tension
- Pupil dilation
- Anxiety/paranoia/violent outbursts
- Elevated heart rate
It is important for one to be supervised when trying to detox from opioids because they can cause some severe symptoms and since elevated heart rate and hypertension are symptoms of concern, heart attacks are possible. With rehab, a doctor or nurse is always supervising a patient who is going through detox and vital signs are monitored regularly. Also, if the symptoms become too overwhelming, a doctor can and most likely will prescribe a patient with a medication to help alleviate drug cravings and help with other symptoms as well.
There are several different types of treatment a patient will go through when in drug rehab. The first type is called Residential Treatment Center (RTC). RTC is available to help patients to transition from their lives of addiction to their lives of recovery. RTC implements a series of different types of therapies to help patients to learn about their addiction and what they can do in the future to avoid relapse. RTC also helps patients to recover by introducing peaceful ways to cope with moods that trigger the desire to use drugs such a meditation, yoga, drawing and painting. Inpatient treatment allows patients who have shown great strides in their recovery to go out with a family member or friend to the store or to a dinner outside the facility.
Many patients in RTC stay in the facility for 28 days. However, some stay for 30 days, 60 days or even 90 days. It all depends on what type of drugs a person has taken and the number of times a person has been through rehab. For some people who have become sober only to relapse again days later, more time might be needed to truly help them with their recovery efforts.
There are two types of outpatient treatments. One type is called Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) and it takes place in a facility for 6 hours a day, 5-7 days a week. Within PHP, a patient will continue to learn about ways to cope with triggers while also learning how to transition from life in rehab to life outside rehab. During PHP, some patients are recommended for sober living houses to lessen the chance for relapse. Sober living houses are designed so that people who are unsure about living on their own after rehab have the ability to live a more structured life.
The second type of outpatient treatment is generally the last type of therapy a patient is recommended for before they are free to fly on their own. Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) takes place at either the same facility as RTC and PHP or a smaller facility for 3 hours a day, 3 days a week. The focus of IOP is for people to reach out socially to one another in a group while also learning how to manage those addiction triggers still. IOP is the introductory phase to support groups in the future.
Patients on their way to recovery who have been through all the steps above are now ready to be released from the program. Some patients remain in sober living houses while others choose to go back to their own home or stay with friends. Either way, every patient battles the same set of feelings, nervousness, anxiety and fear of relapse. However, many patients have positive feelings of relief, joy and a new perspective on life. Sobriety is what people who are fighting an alcohol or drug addiction will obtain because there is no cure for addiction. Temptation to drink and do drugs will always be there and therefore, those fighting addiction will always want to give in. Support groups are a great way to fight against those temptations. People are very supportive in these groups, that’s why they are called support groups. The people in these groups are going through the same thing everyone else is so no one truly understands better than the group in that room.
Taking up a hobby is also a good idea when it comes to aftercare because staying busy helps to avoid relapse. Find something enjoyable such as drawing/painting, singing, dancing, sports, fishing, bowling, cooking, etc. Anything that is positive and allows someone to stay busy will also keep one’s mind off of drugs or alcohol.
Overdoses are the leading cause of deaths for people under 50 in America. It claims more lives than guns, AIDS and even car crashes. Many of those overdoses are found in people who are 20 and under. Educating and spreading awareness about drug use and effects can help save lives. Drug rehabilitation can help save lives too.